Last week, our school recognised the national week dedicated to homelessness, August 4 to 10, an opportunity to bring the problem into the national spotlight and onto community and government agendas.
Two in every five people counted as homeless are under 25. Homelessness is mainly caused by poverty, unaffordable rent and family violence. Nationally, homelessness grew by 30 per cent from 2006 to 2016.
This year's theme was "Houses end homelessness".
Holy Spirit Catholic Primary School at CarnesHill saw last week as a great chance to raise awareness in the school community of homelessness and of the many homeless people here in the South-West.
Our Mini Vinnies team of pupils and teachers made this known throughout the school community and did something about it.
Mini Vinnies is the school's version of St Vincent de Paul Society. The Holy Spirit Mini Vinnies held a pyjama day to raise funds for St Vincent de Paul's Winter Appeal. Pupils and staff came to school in their pyjamas for the day -- a stark reminder of homeless people living and sleeping rough.
Soup in a cup was lunch for the pupils and staff that day as often that's all the many homeless people have as their evening meal when the various volunteer night-patrol vans visit local parks to feed the needy.
In practical ways, Mini Vinnies made the entire school community aware of the plight of the homeless in our area and what staff, students and parents in the Holy Spirit School community can do. Parents attended on the day in support.
The Mini Vinnies activities included:
- Finding comfort and warmth outdoors on cold concrete with just cardboard boxes through a Mini Winter Sleepout;
- Packing donated toiletries to distribute to the homeless and poor;
- Making sandwiches to give to those in need through the Night Patrol vans;
- Packing the Night Patrol food vans with soup, sandwiches and toiletries;
- Watching videos on the plight of the homeless;
- Making soup to sell to the school community to raise funds for Vinnies' Winter Appeal;
- Praying for all those who are homeless and for the volunteers and charities, like St Vincent de Paul; and
- Donating food to Vinnies to give to those in need across Liverpool.
I'm indebted to the teachers who co-ordinate Mini Vinnies for their commitment to the cause and to the pupils. This is a very significant program of Christian action at our school.